On the cusp of the millennium, beginning with Shanko Rashidi’s acclaimed success, the Fuji scene witnessed an upsurge in the number of wonder-kids who embraced the art. And the roll call, by 2005, had become quite long: Wasiu Aiki Container, Rando Riliwan, Eva Water, Konkolo Wally-G, Global “T” Tunapa, Muri Ikoko, Rasheedat Omo-Ilu, among a number of others who were not fortunate enough to make it to our TV screen.
Along with the arrival of the teenage crowd came that popular advice from Alabi Pasuma, who urged them to combine the craft with schooling. “Eyin omo kee-ke-kee te n ko Fuji o, lasiko yi ara mi,” (Dear young Fuji artistes of the moment), Pasuma sang, before reeling off names, ending the line with an eternally memorable footnote: “E k’awe kun-un… kun’she o.” (Get some education while honing your skills).
If Pasuma’s detractors felt that advice came against the backdrop of the threat the presence of the kids meant for Paso’s generation, his fans had enough evidences to prove it as an extension of his famed big-brotherly role in the Fuji scene. In any case, Taiye Currency and, before him, Alao Malaika, were there as loud testimonies.
Yet if Shanko and his disciples really listened to Pasuma’s piece of advice, it was unclear whether they indeed understood its import. And so, curiously, after they all unwittingly left the Fuji radar, many of them never showed up in the classroom.
Naturally, their near-total disappearance, both from the studio and the classroom, throws up the one question: what really went wrong?
Quick answer: youthful exuberance.
To be sure, such simplistic diagnosis may not capture the complexities surrounding the kids’ odyssey but it offers a better insight and may not be far from the real causes. Frankly, it’s quite difficult to divorce infantilism from the controversies that defined the short-lived careers of the kids, most notably Shanko Rashidi, who got entangled in some record label agreement crises.
Shanko, at the height of his glory, dumped Alphabet Records for DAAM Music and later Olasco Films and Records. He promptly released an album titled ‘Agreement’, marketed by Olasco, prompting Alphabet Records to obtain a court injunction to stop the release of his subsequent albums.
The young lad would later accuse Alphabet Music of manipulative tendencies, arguing that the controversial 10-year contract he signed was due to the record company’s deceptive proposals. By the time the dust would settle, fans and foes have moved their gazes away from the promising star.
His closest rival, Wasiu Aiki Container, wasn’t as successful as Shanko was, even though his fans would never agree he was not a better talent. He too had a deal with Olasco shortly after Shanko’s rise, appeared in a few Nollywood flicks and, soon after, faded away. Muri Ikoko and Global “T” had similar record deals kerfuffle as Shanko’s, with varying degrees of misfortunes. In all, the music marketers had negative mentions.
Yet there is the big issue of talent and whether these kids indeed had the gift. A significant part of their appeal lies in their naivety as kids and their unusual coming as a crowd, and not necessarily in the awesomeness of their talent. Many an enthusiastic fan who saw them on television got carried away by their juvenile innocence, paying no attention to the core of their art, even as a Konkolo Wally-G for instance simply padded his lyrics with improvised nursery rhymes, accompanied by a husky Fuji-esque voice.
Today, Shanko has a Polytechnic certificate even though he battles with obscurity as he makes effort to integrate pop into his brand of Fuji; Wasiu Container remains out of the radar as he struggles to stage a comeback; and Konkolo, report said, never left school even after the klieg lights shifted away from him. Others didn’t show up–––both in the studio and the classroom and, even, elsewhere.
Apparently, the kids couldn’t sustain the tempo of their rise, as envisioned by enthusiastic fans in the 2000s. In the end, Pasuma’s prophecy that they would be handed the baton may have been ill-conceived. Or maybe it is not dusk yet.
There is an industry-wide contribution to the rise and fall of these kids: if the kids themselves couldn’t contain their unbridled babyism––or perhaps many just couldn’t give what they never had even as radio MCs hailed them to high heavens––very few among the philistines masquerading as music promoters could hide their own rapacity. In the end, with the disappearance of the kids, it turned out a lose-lose situation for both parties. And the Fuji genre is the worse for it.
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